MONTHLY BAROMETER – WELLNESS EDITION
With hindsight, 2019 will be regarded as a tipping point for the digital revolution. The earlier promises of freedom, convenience, civic engagement and community building have given way to grave concerns and angst about privacy loss, surveillance, distrust, dislocation, manipulation and endless outrage. From an investment perspective, this suggests that both ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) strategies and employee activism will increasingly focus on the reform of Big Tech.
Will this tipping point force us to reconsider the relationship that technology has with wellness?
By now, everybody knows that overconsumption of digital products and services has a direct negative impact on our mental and physical health, but what about the most pernicious effect tech can often have on other wellbeing attributes such as our ability and likelihood to socialize and commune with real people?
Last month, an ad from Peloton went viral for portraying the stereotype of a submissive wife who receives a fitness bike for Christmas. It unleashed a wave of derision and criticism for its sexism of another age, but few critics paid attention to another feature of the ad: the wife’s isolation.
Most of the ad is focused on the woman peddling alone on her static machine in her sitting room, highlighting, by default, her solitude. Maybe she would have preferred to receive a membership to a fitness studio/gym where she could make new friends? All this to highlight the following observation: a majority of analysts take it as a given that virtual fitness classes (working out alone in the comfort of one’s home) will kill the gym, but it could be that this assumption is wrong.